ISFJ: The power of four letters

isfj - inside an introvert's mind

Introverted – 83%
Sensing– 38%
Feeling– 38%
Judging – 22%

When you’re a teenager, all you want to do is figure out who you are and to fit in. I could never understand how I could be one person in a certain situation, and act like someone entirely different around another group of people. I felt like I was in a constant state of personality crisis.

I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called, but there was once a website devoted entirely to personality tests and quizzes, and it quickly became one of my favourite time-wasters. I took and retook almost every quiz on that damn website, hoping for a result that would, I don’t know, change my life? Eventually I realised I was far from the only girl on earth who adjusts herself depending on social situations, and, more importantly, that I was who I was.

That said, the Myers-Briggs personality test is generally a good indicator of a person’s traits. Four letters – that’s all it takes. As an ISFJ, I’m part of a group that Wikipedia reckons makes up 9-14 per cent of the population.

Like the ISFJ description suggests, I learn best by visual reinforcement (diagrams, writing things down) or better, by doing.While I was always a pretty good student, tertiary presented more of a challenge for me, and I knew I was never going to be a candidate for grad school (not that it’s really very useful in my field). Conceptual theories and theoretical discussions tire me like nothing else can.

I’ve always thought that the world rewarded extroverts. In the working world, introverts get trampled, passed over. ISFJs hate conflict and confrontation, and don’t do well with criticism – two traits I’ve always, always struggled with (especially the first one, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I know nobody likes fighting, really, but it’s like I regress to childhood and clam up completely in the face of argument).

Obviously, each personality type also comes with its own strengths (hurrah!).

  • The ISFJ feels a strong sense of responsibility and duty. They take their responsibilities very seriously, and can be counted on to follow through
  • Usually good (albeit conservative) at handling money
  • Take their commitments seriously, and seek lifelong relationships (and here I thought that was called “maturity”!)
  • Likely to put others’ needs above their own
  • Excellent memory for details which are important to them
  • Value security, tradition, and peaceful living

What’s your Myers-Briggs personality? I’d especially love to hear from other I-types (at 83%, it’s my strongest tendency of the four preferences); I so rarely encounter other like minds…

22 thoughts on “ISFJ: The power of four letters

  • Reply Christy April 16, 2011 at 00:27

    My father used to run Myers-Briggs conferences for years. As a teenager I was ENFP – just like my Dad. My Mom is an ISFJ like you. Now in my mid-30’s I have transitioned to an INFJ. (This is based on the internet versions of the tests though, so I’m not sure that’s 100% accurate.)

  • Reply Emily Jane April 16, 2011 at 01:05

    Close! Mine is INFJ. I LOVE this stuff, and it’s interesting that the divide between extraverts and introverts is pretty much equal – we think there are way more extraverts (I guess because they hog all the attention), when in reality, we do just as much processing and have just as strong opinions – we just do it internally 🙂

  • Reply Daisy April 16, 2011 at 01:54

    Ive had to take the MBTI in two classes. The last class was about 1/4 figuring out our MBTI type. I’m an ESTJ. We did a full class on ensuring we had the right type – lots of people don’t – by doing other tests, quizzes, and answering questions. Then the teacher split us up into groups of our own personality types! I got to hang with 4 other people with the same personality type (ESTJ) as me for awhile, and we talked about our likes and dislikes. It was fascinating. Then, we heard from the introverts – who told us what they don’t like and do like when interacting from us.

    Overall a pretty awesome experience!

  • Reply Alotta Lettuce April 16, 2011 at 03:51

    I’m an ENTJ, although I typically test really low on the E portion, meaning I’m technically an extrovert, but with a lot of introverted tendencies.

  • Reply oilandgarlic April 16, 2011 at 05:12

    I definitely think the world, especially in work and politics, cater to the extrovert. While I understand the need for leaders that are very articulate and inspiring, I wonder if our world would operate better if we did not so easily overlook those who are on the quieter side. They may have great ideas and just need a little push to become leaders, yet are overlooked at meetings etc.. simply because someone talks louder.

    I am definitely an introvert but I think I have extrovert moments, if that makes any sense!

  • Reply Lesley April 16, 2011 at 04:54

    Huh. I took the test and it says I’m 100% introverted. I’m not surprised I’m an introvert but 100%??? Well, maybe it’s not too far off. I took this test in high school and I think I’ve always had an ISTJ personality.

    Introverted – 100%
    Sensing – 38%
    Thinking – 38%
    Judging – 1%

    From Wikipedia: ‘ISTJs thrive on organization. They keep their lives and environments well-regulated. They bring painstaking attention to detail in their work and will not rest until a job is well completed. They are often dissatisfied with unresolved issues, whether in life or in fiction.’

    Haha. I wonder what they mean by “whether in life or in fiction.” It struck me as funny because I really can’t stand books that end either unhappily or with unresolved issues. It bugs me for days, even weeks when that happens. There are books I read in childhood that to this day I still can’t get over because of the unsatisfying ending.

    • Reply eemusings April 16, 2011 at 08:36

      Oh, I’m just the same, and I LOATHE ambiguity in endings (hence often disliking short stories). I don’t want to fill in the blanks myself, I want to know what YOU dreamt up for the characters!

  • Reply chipsforsupper April 16, 2011 at 09:20

    I am very much, and always will be, an ISTJ. When I took this in highschool I was also an ISTJ.
    Introverted 78%
    Sensing 1%
    Thinking 88%
    Judging 67%

    Does your job follow what your personality profile is? Mine definitely does. On here, http://www.mypersonality.info/personality-types/istj/ one of the jobs listed is Math Teacher. That’s me!

  • Reply me in millions April 16, 2011 at 09:27

    I’m an INTJ… though I used to be an ENTJ. I think I’m right on the cusp of I/E. And based on reading your blog, that sounds like a pretty accurate description!

  • Reply Kara April 16, 2011 at 10:40

    Mine’s ISTJ:

    Introverted – 11%
    Sensing – 25%
    Thinking – 1%
    Judging – 28%

    Apparently I’m not much of a thinker, lol! I’ve always found these tests to be slightly misleading, however, I think my results have changed since the last time I took the test.

  • Reply karen April 16, 2011 at 11:10

    Introverted 78
    Sensing 62
    Thinking 1
    Judging 1

    Wow so low on thinking and judging lol

  • Reply Young students help teachers | Youth Correction April 17, 2011 at 00:51

    […] The power of four letters (eemusings.wordpress.com) […]

  • Reply gem April 17, 2011 at 10:55

    I used to be INTP, now I’m ENTJ, The Fieldmarshall type. Apparently I got more judgemental and social as I got older, who knew?

  • Reply Brad April 19, 2011 at 04:20

    ISTJ. Always have been, probably always will be. Have you read The Introvert Advantage? I haven’t yet, but it was once recommended to me.

  • Reply Clare - Never Niche April 19, 2011 at 06:03

    I’m an ENFJ!

  • Reply Layla April 21, 2011 at 01:47


    We did this for frosh week, and a friend told me I should have kept trying the test until I got “E”. I told them I didn’t think that would be possible without lying.

  • Reply nic April 28, 2011 at 01:22

    I have always been an INTJ…

  • Reply maturestudenthanginginthere April 25, 2012 at 00:58

    Hey thanks for popping into my blog and leaving this link. I was interested to learn from your post about your 4 letters. You have an interesting blog here. I look forward to reading more.

  • Reply CF December 25, 2012 at 10:27

    Neat – Thanks for letting me know about this post! I guess PF bloggers enjoy analyzing their personalities in addition to their finances! I’m an INTJ and it is a deadly accurate description of me, flaws and all.

  • Reply Savvy Working Gal April 13, 2013 at 12:55

    I am an ISFJ too. You’ve described my personality perfectly. I’m currently reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet. It really hits home.

  • Reply Erika April 27, 2013 at 03:58

    Ahh! I love MBTI! I’m an ENFP!! (but I’m RIGHT on the I/E line…) 🙂 <3

  • Reply Meg August 31, 2013 at 14:47

    There is more to Myers Briggs than 4 letters. To really understand how to type people you have to understand the FUnCTIOnS that each type has. Changing types isn’t as easy as just ‘becoming mor extraverted’ or something.
    Most people typed themselves incorrectly at some point (or always type incorrectly) and don’t know it.
    The preferences on tests are hard to measure. It’s not really a scale, despite what the test seems to tell us. Like I said, you have to understand the theory of functions.

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